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Optus says last week’s outage was caused by ‘bad route data’

Following its almost full-day outage last week, Optus has pointed the finger at an international peering network that supplied the telco with bad route data.

user icon Daniel Croft
Tue, 14 Nov 2023
Optus says last week’s outage was caused by ‘bad route data’
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Speaking at a Senate inquiry, the telco said the bad route data came after a software update that provided incorrect settings, leading to outages across the country.

“At around 4.05am, Wednesday morning, the Optus network received changes to routing information from an international peering network following a routine software upgrade,” said Optus.

“These routing information changes propagated through multiple layers in our network and exceeded preset safety levels on key routers which could not handle these.

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“This resulted in those routers disconnecting from the Optus IP Core network to protect themselves.”

Optus added that the reason that the network took a long time to restore and why some areas came back earlier than others is because, in some cases, it had to send technicians to sites to physically reboot routers.

“The restoration required a large-scale effort of the team and, in some cases, required Optus to reconnect or reboot routers physically, requiring the dispatch of people across a number of sites in Australia,” it added.

Optus has said that its investigations also took time, and this further delayed operations, but that it has now introduced measures to prevent the same issue from happening again; however, this is still a government concern.

“Given the widespread impact of the outage, investigations into the issue took longer than we would have liked as we examined several different paths to restoration,” it said.

“The restoration of the network was at all times our priority, and we subsequently established the cause working together with our partners.”

The Senate has also said that it is worried about customer compensation. While Optus has given its customers an extra data quota of 200 gigabytes for those on postpaid plans, and pre-paid customers will be entitled to unlimited weekend data for the rest of the year, the Senate has pointed out instances of financial losses for businesses and individuals who rely on the network for their living.

According to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), those affected can receive compensation.

For those making claims of financial loss, the TIO can direct a telco to provide up to $100,000 in compensation, with claims greater than that recommended to engage in legal action.

Those whose complaints concern privacy rights can also be awarded up to $100,000, while other issues have a maximum compensation of $1,500.

About 10.2 million customers and a large number of organisations were affected by the outage, including over 40 hospitals.

“We apologise sincerely for letting our customers down and the inconvenience it caused,” the telco said.

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